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A solid red quilt set layered with a baroque red and white quilt set, and a 3D wall canvas of multicolored birds.

How to Clean a Quilt

Follow This Handy Guide For Washing Your Quilts

Have you ever wondered how to keep your treasured quilts clean? We’ve gathered together the basics on keeping your quilts clean, from brand new ones to cherished heirlooms that might have been handed down from family members. Use these guidelines to keep your quilts looking beautiful for years to come.

How to wash a quilt for the first time

For brand new quilts, check the care tag for washing guidelines and follow them. If you can’t find a tag, wash your quilt in a washing machine in cold water with a gentle detergent. If the colors on your quilt are saturated and vibrant, consider adding a “color catcher” to the wash to keep colors from bleeding. Try adding a half-cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle to help keep colors bright.

How to dry a quilt

Most newer quilts can safely take a tumble in the dryer on low. Consider hanging it dry on a clothesline to give it a fresh scent and plenty of circulating fresh air.

How to wash an old quilt

Vintage quilts from days gone by call for a little extra TLC. If you’re bringing it out of dusty storage, start by airing it outdoors on a clothesline or a balcony for a day to freshen it up. When you are ready to wash it, remember that a gentle approach is imperative. Hand-wash it in an oversized laundry room sink or in your clean bathroom tub. Skip the dryer. Instead, hang it on a clothesline on a sunny, dry day.

When should you dry clean a quilt?

If you have a quilt with an abundance of loose lace, embellishments or applique work, consider sending it out for dry cleaning instead of washing at home. When your quilt features heavily saturated colors, be sure to test the fabrics for color-fastness. Wet a piece of white cotton fabric with hot water, then rub it onto the saturated color. If the color runs onto the cotton, then don’t attempt to wash it at home. Play it safe and send it out to your favorite dry cleaner.

How to spot clean a quilt

Vintage quilts with unknown stains or discoloration require some extra care. Don’t use any detergent or spot treatment that contains bleach. Avoid rubbing the stain. Instead, blot with white vinegar or a mild laundry detergent. Place a white cloth underneath, then flush with cold water. Line dry or spread out on a larger sheet to dry.

How often should you wash a quilt?

It depends on how often your quilt is used. If it spends more time as a decorative accent in a barely used guest room, then skip annual cleanings and instead air it out several times a year to keep it fresh. If you use the quilt every day, typically you only need to wash it once a year. Wash more often if you have children or pets, or want to manage allergens in your home.

If you have a comforter, the cleaning steps are similar, but not identical. Here are a few handy tips on how to wash a comforter at home.

Now that you know how to launder your quilts, check out our three handy tips for caring and storing your quilts.

Comments (4)

I did not know I was supposed to roll and not fold my quilts with tissue for storage. Thank you for the information.

Hello Linda,
We are glad you found this information helpful. We post new posts every week, please stop back for new tips. Happy Decorating!
Your Country Door Team

I didn’t know how to check to see if the colors run. Thank you for letting me know what to do.

Patricia, thank you for commenting. Running or bleeding colors can be a concern when washing a new quilt. As a general rule always expect bleeding when you first wash any item. Quilts with bright colors and or jewel tones tend to have more dye and are more likely to bleed. You can test the durability (colorfastness) of a dye by placing the quilt in a large sink or bathtub full of soapy water for half an hour. The quilt will need special care if the quilt bleeds and the water become discolored. As a precaution, you can also wash your quilt in a separate load so that if it does bleed, you won’t discolor any other items in the load.

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